Message: The Radical Nature of Our Integrity | Scripture: Matthew 6:19-34 | Speaker: Pastor Stephen Choy
I don’t know if it seems this way, now, but I’m a very simple person. When I find out that I like something, I will not deviate from that thing. Take for example my closet. I’ve talked about my clothes before—how I often don’t do a lot of shopping to add to the clothes that I have, but one thing I do is when I find a piece of clothing I like, I will buy a lot of that piece of clothing so that I can keep wearing it. If you just look in my dresser, I have over a dozen t-shirts that are exactly the same except for their colour, and that is because they are comfy, they were all $7 dollars on sale at the Banana Republic outlet roughly 10 years ago in Florida, and they’re durable—100% cotton, so I bought out nearly a shelf full of them.
The same is true of when I go to restaurants. If I’m going to a restaurant where I know I like a particular thing, I’m ordering that thing every time. We went to a food court growing up my whole life—it’s the best food court in Toronto—if you’re ever there the mall is called First Markham Place, and for 15 years of my life, even though there are hundreds if not thousands of things to choose from—delicacies from all over the world, I would only go to the one Japanese stall—a Japanese stall that didn’t even make very good Japanese food, I’m pretty sure I was their only patron—and I would always order the same thing: their terrible chicken teriyaki, and I did that until one day they closed down, forcing me to try something else. So, I went to another stall that sells $5 bbq pork rice, and I haven’t ordered anything different since.
I don’t like new things. I don’t like to deviate from what I do like. My wife calls it tunnel vision. I call it being a dumb and stubborn man—an affliction characteristic of so many men that I know. But there are virtues to it—not many, and perhaps, I can leverage some of that virtue for us today in what I see being conveyed to us in our text, namely, that when it comes to our relationship with God, we’re meant to have a singular, undivided eye—a tunnel vision for him, and the only way we can have that is if we know Jesus—if he is our singular, undivided Saviour.
So, let that serve as our proposition this morning as we unpack our text: have a singular, undivided eye for God in Jesus, and I hope to show you why this is the all-important thing for our lives—why our integrity in our devotion to God matter so much to him and his kingdom—and I hope to show this to you in our time together beginning with our first point: have a singular, undivided eye for God in Jesus …
1) By Taking in the Beauty of God in Jesus
If able, please stand as I read to you from Matthew 6:19-24. TWoL: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
I hope by now that if I were to ask you what Jesus’ overall intended message is for us in the Sermon on the Mount, you would be able to answer by pointing to Matthew 5:17—that Christ has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets—to show us how all of history and Scripture point us to him. He is God the Son come to dwell with us, and in him is God the Father and the power of God the Spirit to satisfy every one of God’s commands so that he, himself, might be the means of our reconciliation to our Creator. And in his coming and in his fulfillment of all Scripture, he calls those who understand what he’s saying—those who have been waiting for him to appear as their heavenly Messiah—to take up a greater righteousness—to distinguish themselves as those who possess new hearts as a result of God’s new, unprecedented act of grace in their lives.
And in chapter 6, the chapter we’ve been dealing with most extensively the last three weeks, we’ve been learning that greater righteousness stands in contrary position—it has a contrary nature—to that of a hypocrite. Where a hypocrite seeks only to glorify and praise himself through virtuous acts, the man or woman who possesses a greater righteousness acts virtuously not for what it does to benefit him or herself but because the benefit has already been derived—it has already been received. The virtue—the outward obedience—is merely a response to what’s taking place internally and to being given the privilege of calling the sovereign, omnipotent God of the universe our Father.
Yet, Jesus doesn’t come merely to reinterpret the commands of God, but to provide us with greater promises for those who exhibit this kind of righteousness. Not only do you get the motivation to do what is good in the joy of your salvation—not only are you saved by grace alone when you deserved hell alone, but in that joy, Jesus tells us, God means to add to it—to shower you with grace upon grace—to make you excessively, infinitely, unwaveringly happy.
BUT Jesus also knows who he’s talking to. He knows he’s talking to sinners. He knows he’s talking to forgetters. He knows he’s talking to people who listen with evil hearts faster than they do with repentant, humble hearts. And so, here in the second part of chapter 6 starting in verse 19, he wants to make sure we know what kind of reward that is—that it’s not a reward that you’ll see or receive in its fullness here on earth.
And you might hear me say this and ask, like any rational person, why not? Isn’t God omnipotent? Why doesn’t he just give us our reward now and in eternity so that we know that he intends to keep his promise—so that we know he’s faithful? And Jesus tells us, “Because anything you receive on this earth is fleeting, it’s temporary, and it’s destructible.” You see, God doesn’t just want to give you any reward. He wants to give you a reward that is fitting for the infinite, holy, righteous, and generous God to give—not a trifling thing, not that trinket that your grandma or grandpa brings back to you after an incredible vacation. He wants to give you the incredible thing—the once-in-an-eternity, cannot rot, cannot be stolen kind of thing.
But we, as humans, in our sinfulness, don’t see the wisdom in that. We want what can rot. We want what can be stolen. Why? Because we forget what our hearts have seen. We forget to whom our hearts belong, and thus, we determine our treasure and our greatest desires based upon what we can have and afford now. We hear the word reward, and our instant reaction is to think like the prodigal son: Father, give me my inheritance, so that I go out and squander all of it, not thinking that once we’re done, all we’re left with is the mud and rot fit for lesser creatures.
It’s this exact human problem that leads Jesus to his next words in verses 22-23: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Now, I want to clarify something: this word for healthy—if your eye is healthy—it’s better translated as singular/undivided/without distraction—if your eye is singular, the whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is not singular—if it is divided, then your body will be full of darkness. How you take in what is around you—how you perceive reality—determines the lightness or darkness in you.
So, I want to ask, why does Jesus say this here? It seems very obscure because the passage before it talks about not pursuing worldly things—not pursuing money, and the passage after it, again, talks about not serving and pursuing money. There seems to be little to do with sight, and the answer is that what we fix our gaze upon—what entices us and draws our attention—determines what we pursue, what we want, what we love.
My professor speaks of his wife like a man who’s found a treasury of gold. I remember one instance where he was describing his faithfulness to her as unwavering. At that point they had been married for 38 years, and like a schoolboy with an overwhelming crush, he said this, “my eye for her is singular. As she’s aged, so has my taste in what a woman looks like. Whatever stage of life she is, that is my standard of beauty, and by the grace of God, given the kind of pornographic age we live in, I have no desire, no inclination to fill my mind and compare her with anything other than who God made her to be. My eye for her is undivided. I have a singular focus on her, and in that singular focus there’s freedom, there’s joy, there’s delight, there’s life, there’s love.”
And as he was telling us this—as our seminary professor was gushing to us about his wife, I couldn’t help but be filled with a holy jealousy—not for his wife, but to think of my own wife that way, because I knew didn’t. I knew, especially early in our marriage, my heart was divided. I didn’t always have a singular focus upon her in the way I should have. Yet, in hearing my professor speak this way about his wife, an increased desire grew in me for it. Why? Because I could hear the truth in his words—that such singularity came with freedom, joy, delight, life, love. That such focus quieted the chaos of our sinful souls.
This resonated deeply in my soul, and as I read through Christ’s sermon on the mount, I began to realize why! It’s because Jesus has just spent all this time telling us that the people of heaven are happy! Not the fake, instagrammable, tik-tok, or whatever social media renditions of happiness that exist these days, but the kind of happiness that comes from being satisfied, from having want for nothing, from having our every desire and need provided for, from having our eyes opened to the sufficient beauty of God and the things that God desires to give you—to rest in him who has no boundary, and is an everlasting fount of blessing.
And this, dear church, is the difference between a good eye and a bad eye. A bad eye cannot fix its gaze or be enticed by the beauty of God in the revelation of Jesus Christ. No, they, as one commentator puts it, “they see him as ugly. They don’t see reality for what it is. They do not have an eye that can see [grace, freedom, joy, delight, life, love, and] mercy as more precious than money, the world, the comfortable life.” And Scripture is absolutely clear about this—you cannot have righteousness, and thus, you cannot have happiness, if you cannot see the beauty and love of God displayed most prominently for you upon that cross.
If your eye is healthy—if it is singularly focused on Christ—so, too, will your body be led to singular focus—so too will your body be led to righteousness. But if God in Christ is not singular to you—if he is not your standard of beauty, your enticement, the treasure and pearl of greatest value—then it doesn’t matter how good you want to be because your whole body will be corrupted, and thus, because the light becomes corrupted with darkness, it is only a matter of time until you’re filled with darkness. And here’s the warning for you: if the light in you is darkness, how great, truly, is the darkness that awaits your soul?
You cannot serve two masters, says Jesus. You cannot serve God and money. You cannot serve Christ and the world. The good eye sees God and sees a singular, infinite, absolute, worthy-of-all-pursuit kind of beauty because of what Christ does in fulfilling all Scripture—in being the mediator who reconciles us to God. Don’t let your knowledge of what is true and good be divided in devotion. Let Christ be all consuming to you as you fix your gaze upon him. Have a singular, undivided eye for God in Jesus by taking in the beauty of God in Jesus, and not only that, but, looking at our second point, have a singular, undivided eye for God in Jesus …
2) By Resting in the Sufficient Promises of God in Jesus
If able, please stand as I read to you from Matthew 6:25-34. TWoL: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?7 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
If I ever had a sermon where there was a second main proposition to introduce to you, it would be in this sermon—or really, it would be to extend the proposition: have a singular, undivided eye for God in Jesus, and be anxious for nothing because it really is the point—the other side of the coin—of our second half of the passage. Just look from verses 25-34—the command not to be anxious is stated five times in varying ways, and all the other verses around these 5 statements on anxiety are merely supports to show why anxiety ought to have no place in your life.
And the reason why Jesus makes this the supplemental proposition of this section of his sermon is because there is no sin of the heart greater than anxiety for distracting you and dividing you from keeping your gaze on God—from possessing a righteousness that can be classified as greater than mere outward obedience. Anxiety creates the basis for so many other problems in the Christian life.
Just think of it. If I’m anxious about how much money I’m making, that anxiety will likely give way to all forms of greed, covetousness, hoarding, inability to take God-glorifying risks, and maybe even stealing. If I’m anxious about dying, I’ll likely become preoccupied with my own vanity, or become uncaring to those who seem to get in my way of living life the way I want to live it. If I’m anxious about my work performance, I’ll likely become highly irritable, selfish, and seek too highly the opinion of people like my boss, while casting off the voice of others, like lower ranking co-workers. So on, so forth. Nothing is as egregious and damaging to the Christian testimony as anxiety is and can be.
But more than describe to you what anxiety is and what it does in terms of stockpiling other sins into your life, we have to figure out what its root is because it’s only by figuring out its root that we can be rid of it, and I can tell you definitively that Jesus wants you to be free of anxiety. He wants you to be happy. He wants you to have peace. Nothing about the Christian life, about his teaching, or in his creation of all things was ever meant to increase or bind you to feelings of anxiety.
So, then what does Jesus say is the root of an anxious heart? Well, to get to what it is, he, first, pinpoints two problems that the people of Israel were facing: they were anxious about food and clothes. Now, I imagine most of us in this room aren’t anxious about those things. None of us is thinking whether we will eat after service. No, most of us are thinking what, from the many options before us, we will eat. And none of us are thinking about whether we have sufficient clothing. No, most of us will look into our closet and see more $7 t-shirts than we know to do with.
But perhaps you’re thinking about that mortgage payment, or that opinion of your friend or co-worker, or that cluster of blood cells that your doctor recently found. Perhaps you are actually thinking about food and clothing or about money problems in general. Whatever it is that has you worried, that’s what Christ means to identify here. And in that worry, Christ wants to give you three main arguments as to why you shouldn’t.
The first is that you’re a child of God. “Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not [as those who call him Father and as those whom he calls his children] of more value than they?”
In other words, as a child of God, there is more to be concerned about than what food will sustain your life and what clothes will cover your body. No, you’re an heir to the throne—upon you lies the designation of future King and Queen—and yet for some reason you’ve set your eyes so low that all you can think about is your stomach and the cloth on your back. But Jesus says, focus instead on the state of your kingdom, your people, your Father, and your home. Let your Father be concerned about your stomach—you are to set your sights and your effort on things of greater value and purpose.
The second argument carries from that in that God is not only your Father but is still holy and reverently the God of the universe, and as such, he is in control and in power over all things. “Who, in their anxiety, adds a single hour—a single second—to their life?” Stated differently, don’t waste your life on worry because not only are you unable to add anything to what you have, but you also take away physically, emotionally, spiritually from what you’ve been given. Let the omnipotent God be concerned over you and your circumstances, while you fix your eyes on him.
Then the third argument is that you, as those brought in as children of God, have been shown the wisdom and generosity of God. “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon” the wisest man to ever live on earth could only amass so much glory for himself, yet these lilies and this grass that God has clothed, are they not more glorious than all that Solomon ever accomplished for himself? And are these lilies and grass not temporary, fleeting things—how much more do you think God will show you his wisdom and generosity knowing that you are his eternal, covenant people? Let your wise, generous God do for you what even Solomon could not do for himself by clothing you not just with worldly garments, but with the garment of greater righteousness.
And here, at the end of this third argument, we learn what the root issue of anxiety is in that it’s not just that you mix yourself up between what God wants for you and what your sinfulness deceives you into wanting. Rather, anxiety is worse than that as Christ says at the end of verse 30, “O you of little faith.” The root of anxiety isn’t your confusion. It’s that you simply do not believe, and the logic that Jesus employs is quite simple: as your faith grows, your anxiety—your unbelief—will decrease. If you want to battle anxiety, you battle the root of your unbelief in the promises of God—in your trust that God has done, is doing, and will do all that he’s said he’s done, all that he’s said he is doing, and all that he’s said he will do. You battle anxiety not by giving into your worry, but by believing.
But what does it mean to believe? Well, I’ve heard it told this way once: imagine you’re a race car driver, and as you’re heading to the finish line, your opponent intentionally drives over mud on the floor to whip it onto your windshield, and because he’s done so, you start swerving and second guessing the direction you’re going in. Yet, what we don’t often realize is that the presence of the mud is not a true indicator that we’re going the wrong way or that we won’t finish the race. It’s still possible that we are going the right way, and that we will finish the race. But what ensures that we do that? Is it that we keep driving with the mud on our windshield and hope that we get where we’re supposed to go?
No! The presence of the mud indicates to us that we need to turn on our windshield wipers and spray that windshield fluid to get it off. In other words, we’re called to do something about it! You don’t continue with the mud on your windshield and drive the car off the track. The issue isn’t the mud being thrown, and it’s not your anxiety as you’re tempted to distraction by your opponent’s action. Rather, it’s how you intend to respond to all of it. Do you intend to give into your anxiety, and let yourself fall off the cliff, or do you intend to fight it—to turn on those wipers and to use your windshield fluid?
And what in life acts as our wipers and windshield fluid? What in life is meant to build up our faith, to put us back on our feet, and continue the race? Well, in one corner you have the promise of inheritance as the child of God, and in another corner you have the omnipotence of God, and in that last corner you have the generous wisdom of God, so that as you employ those promises—as you consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field—as you understand the depth of God’s love that is always for you and not against you—as you lean upon God in prayer and supplication making all your requests known to him—as you turn not to fear but seek him out for strength and help and to uphold you with his righteous right hand—as you place the fullness of your weight that his sufficiency is made perfect in your weakness—he not only cleanses all the schemes of the devil from your midst, but he crushes him as your Father, as wise counselor, and as your omnipotent Creator so that that devil and his schemes might never threaten to divide you from the one who is your God ever again.
It’s okay to know and confess you’re dealing with anxiety. We all do. But God, through Jesus, is telling you to do something about it because he has done the ultimate thing about it by dying upon a cross and crushing the head of the serpent under the heel of his foot, and he has not borne up your sin to watch you drive yourself into a ditch. No, he says stop letting the feeling of anxiety drive the car, and instead let the facts, the truth, the reasons, the promises—the windshield wipers and fluid of belief—guide your emotions, your thoughts, and your desires so that you might come back to having that singular, undivided eye for the one who will never let you veer off course—so that you might be righteous as he is righteous—so that you might be happy as he intends you to be happy.
Seek not to pity yourself in the littleness and the blindness of your doubt, worry, and anxiety but build up your faith by seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness—by seeking the treasure of HIM who cannot be destroyed or stolen on earth but that fills your body and life with light, and all these things—all these problems you end up worrying about when you take your eyes off of him—by changing course and refining your gaze upon him, Jesus says, all these things will be added unto you. They will be taken care of for you by your Father who is in heaven. Don’t be anxious about what you cannot control, rather take care of the evil that is in your heart today—to fight the temptation to take your singular focus off of God and the love he’s shown to us through his Son, and he will, just as he’s always promised, give you grace sufficient for the task.